About the African Health Observatory

The African Health Observatory (AHO) is a web-based platform that serves four functions: a) Storage and sharing of data and statistics for elaboration and download if needed; b) Production and sharing of evidence through the analysis and synthesis of information; c) Sustaining networks and communities, for better translation of evidence; and d) Supporting countries establish national or sub-national health observatories.

The AHO data and statistics platform allows users to access metadata, produce their own graphs, maps or tables. Users can also download the raw data with the metadata. There are many dynamic and interactive graphs and maps on the portal. In addition, there is an extensive statistical health profile for each of the 47 Member States of the African Region. The Atlas of African Health Statistics is a yearly publication that contains maps and graphs on wide range indicators on health status, health systems, specific programs and diseases, key determinants and progress on the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Comprehensive and analytical country health profiles provide analysis and synthesis of regional and country health situation to inform policy and decision making. Areas covered include: i) health status and trends – (life expectancies, mortality and disabilities); ii) health systems – (governance, partnerships, finance, human resources, products and infrastructure, community participation, information and evidence); iii) specific programs & services (e.g. HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, family and reproductive health, etc.); and iv) key determinants – (social determinants, environment, climate, and risk factors). In addition, there are four sections that describe progress on internationally agreed goals and targets: the (MDGs, the Ouagadougou Declaration on health systems, the Algiers Declaration on the knowledge gap and the Libreville Declaration on the environment and health).

As a repository of extensive information and evidence on national health systems, AHO strives to play a key role in the policy dialogue, monitoring the implementation and evaluation of national strategies and plans. Thematic or subject-based profiles as well as country profiles are prepared and shared through the various publications of the observatory. A major medium for AHO publications is the African Health Monitor – a serial publication that comes out four times a year. A comprehensive report on the health situation in the African Region is also published once every 5 or 6 years.

The third function of the observatory is to serve as a platform for networking and communities of practice by offering IT-based networking facilities, and as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information and evidence. Members of communities create and capture information, share and learn together to improve performance and address their objectives.

With WHO support, several countries have started work towards establishing their own national health observatories (NHOs) to strengthen their national health information system, while a number of others have expressed interest in doing so. NHOs have similar functions and structure to that of the AHO and serve as multi-stakeholder and collaborative structures and platforms allowing national and sub-national stakeholders to come together voluntarily to address issues of common concern.
The Observatory has a strong mandate from Member States of the African Region. The Ouagadougou Ministerial Declaration on Primary Health Care and Health Systems (2008) and the Algiers Ministerial Declaration on Research for Health (2008) both requested the establishment of an observatory; both declarations were endorsed by the 58th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa (Yaoundé, 2008). At the Sixty-second session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, the ministers of health of the African Region passed a resolution to establish national health observatories in their respective countries and also requested WHO’s technical support for the purpose.

AHO is a product of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa. The Observatory is coordinated by the African Health Observatory and Knowledge Management Unit in WHO-AFRO.

AHO Unit
World Health Organization
Regional Office for Africa
Cité du Djoué, BP06,
Brazzaville, Congo,
Tel.: +(47 241) 39323 / 39140 / 39316
Fax: +(47 241) 39503
e-mail: afrgohssaho@who.int